Category: Life lessons

Hard to give it away

Do you think it’s hard to declutter? Wait until you try to find places to take unwanted china and furniture. The apartment from which my mother moved had a sleeper sofa, a wing chair, matching end and coffee tables, a pullout dining table, a recliner, a china cabinet, a dinette table and four chairs, and... Read more »

Observing rapid aging, and it's not pretty

The last few months have been a scary vision of the ravages of aging. Until my mother declined precipitously after a fall in August, I didn’t perceive her as feeble and infirm. Other than using a walker, she did not seem 94. She was always fastidiously groomed, wore a wig, and was known as a... Read more »

Mom’s upcoming move to a nursing home

Is there anything an elderly person dreads more than going into a nursing home? Is there anything that makes a son or a daughter feel worse than placing an elderly parent in a nursing home? My mother will be moved into nursing care at Our Lady of Angels in Joliet next week. She needs more... Read more »

Thoughts of the season

Note: I had already composed this post when we received word that my mother’s needs are greater than her assisted living home can handle, so she must move to a nursing home. My sister and brother are negotiating with the assisted living home to let her stay through Christmas so that we can observe Christmas... Read more »

Neighborliness in a high-rise

Recently I got on my building’s elevator with a man who pushed 9. I remarked that we live on the same floor and asked when he’d moved in. He’s been here more than two years! Why had we never met before — at the elevator, the trash room, the mailboxes? In my former 13-unit building,... Read more »

With gift-giving reduced, what to do with gift box contents?

Some friends and I have stopped giving gifts for Christmas and birthdays. It make sense: we say we want to purge possessions. It leaves me with a dilemma, however: what to do with the potential presents collected over the years.  A large box holds things from my own shopping, regiftables, and never-used purchases of my... Read more »

Observing dementia and feeling helpless

After Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn took a buyout offer, he began a free weekly enewsletter chockfull of his pithy commentary. I almost always agree with Zorn’s liberal political positions and count on him for evidence-backed arguments. But it was the personal item with which Zorn led off his last issue that prompted me to... Read more »

Making healthcare choices for a parent: a sad example

“Get me out of here.” “Please take me home.” “I don’t understand why I have to be here. Other people fall and aren’t sent away.” It is agonizing to listen to a parent say such things. It is impossible not to feel guilty for putting her in a rehab facility. My 94-year-old mother fell in... Read more »

Differences about what we’ll do now

My friends and I agreed about those who weren’t treating COVID as a serious health threat. But now that we’re vaccinated, we diverge about reentering seminormal life. The differences have made me feel defensive on occasion.  Did I detect a self-satisfied tone when two vaccinated friends said that they intend to keep their masks on... Read more »

Resumed activities fall short: bad luck or a bad omen?

During the pandemic, my friend Sandie and I have played Scrabble online twice a week, double the amount we used to play in person, and my book group has met via Zoom. The activity that I missed is Chicago Greeter, where I’d logged almost 1,000 hours giving tours to out-of-towners. Chicago Greeter resumed operation in... Read more »